blackened banana bread

photo-24

At this point it probably seems like I’m purposely fucking things up. I mean, how could I possibly burn a loaf of bread, twice?

Just like last time, I have to blame my EZ-Bake. Seriously, though. That’s not a cop-out. I’ll admit that I suck balls at being a “domestic goddess.” I’ve come to terms with that…kind of. But it just simply isn’t my fault that my oven is the size of a microwave and distributes heat as precisely as a blind person would fill in a color-by-numbers.

So, on to the subject of this post, and a more heartening reflection. Yesterday, I decided to bake banana bread. Not for my own purposes, but because my girlfriend’s smile is the most adorable, sparkly, lights-up-a-room smile you can imagine, and I thought that baking her something would elicit this response. (Also because I did that thing where you buy a bunch of bananas, forget that you have them and buy another bunch.)

I found a simple recipe to follow, which I expertly augmented to my liking.

Here’s what you’ll need:

• A bunch of really ripe bananas. And by “a bunch,” I mean 3 or 4.
• 1/3 c melted butter
• A handful of chocolate chips/walnuts (I had these on hand)
• 1 c sugar
• 1 egg, beaten
• 1 tsp. vanilla
• 1 tsp. baking soda
• A pinch of salt (I added a good bit since there’s so much sugar)
• 1 1/2 c all-purpose flour

photo-26

Mix all of the shit together. Yep, it’s that easy. The best part is smashing the bananas—I used my hands, like a barbarian. It feels like the kind of thing you always wanted to do as a kid and still kind of want to do but can’t because you’re now an adult. I’ve seen home videos of myself as a toddler burying my fists in birthday cake. Totally indulged. But someone had to clean me…I’ll be damned if my future children ever touch anything. Maybe I’ll wrap their little hands in plastic wrap.

Bake this in a loaf pan at 350 degrees for, the recipe says, one hour.

One hour. After 45 minutes, one side of my loaf was black. Wtf? Really, I cannot take responsibility for this. It’s a fluke.

I have not tried the bread yet, but I’ll have to let you know how it tastes. But I have to admit, much like that anorexic aphorism promises, nothing tastes as good as self-pity feels.

Advertisements

how to make your entire house smell like a pond

Let me begin by saying that The Fresh Market is quite a dangerous place, unless you happen to have an endless supply of money. The ambiance is always much nicer than the local Kroger—meaning there aren’t clusters of homeless people loitering outside—with lush floral displays, tables stacked with nuts and candy, rows of fresh herbs and spices, a spotless deli and yummy coffee samples.

Image

I went to pick up some vegetables and also a catfish fillet for the catfish creole I planned to cook for dinner, enough to last the week. I had to force myself to leave behind unnecessary temptations, like an overpriced container of dark chocolate almonds. At this point, though, I kind of wish I had purchased the almonds and scrapped the catfish.

My hands, after three soap and water scrubs and a spritz of perfume, still smell like they were recently elbow-deep in a giant catfish corpse. As I cooked, my small kitchen, which is door-less and attached to my studio apartment, quickly absorbed the pervasive scent of a vagina that has never been washed.

Sorry, I think I took that one too far.

Anyway, after such an appealing preface, allow me to share this recipe with you. Maybe you’re more accustomed to handling raw fish and not as sensitive to the pond-like odor.

Image

First, you’ll need a catfish fillet. Preferably fresh, not frozen. When you cut this bad boy into 3/4-inch chunks, your knife will catch disturbingly on little strings in the meat. Or maybe that just happened to me because I literally have two “sharp” knives, which are maybe a little sharper than a butter knife.

As a vegetarian who eats the occasional fish dish (meaning, at a restaurant or a frozen salmon fillet I stick in the oven), I’m not used to handling any kind of raw meat. This took some courage. But I—ever the amateur—thought it would all be worthwhile.

You’ll want to start cooking your rice first, especially if you’re cooking brown rice (that’s what I use). One cup of uncooked rice is about four servings. That’s how much I prepared, since I thought this was a recipe that could sustain me for a few days.

In a medium saucepan (I’ve never fucking heard it called that except in recipes. So, just a pan), bring the following to a boil: a 16 oz. can of stewed tomatoes (with the juice), 2 tsp. dried minced onion, 1 tsp. vegetable bouillon (the original recipe called for chicken, but I used a vegan one…it also called for “granules,” and who the hell knows what that is, or even what a bouillon is. I used a cube), 1/2 tsp. dried oregano, 1/4 tsp. garlic powder, and 1/8 tsp. hot pepper sauce (hot sauce? The hell? I used some sriracha).

photo-100

I also added about 1/2 c of sliced up carrot, as well as a sliced up green bell pepper. Because, you know, I wanted to waste as much food as possible.

Add in the slimy catfish chunks and cook them until tender. Or you can do what I did and cook them for an indefinite amount of time, until they literally start disintegrating into the creole mixture. I thought overcooking would make it more bearable—some psychological quirk.

You’re technically supposed to cover the pan, but I didn’t have a lid large enough. So, I tried to use a cutting board. That didn’t exactly work…it started to smoke.

Image

Catfish are maybe the most horrifying things found in freshwater. It absolutely stuns me that anyone would think it a good idea to grab them with their bare hands. I mean, that sounds absolutely like a punishment.

Image

I think I forgot how fishy they taste. Maybe “fishy” isn’t the right word. Maybe “exactly like the bottom of a pond” would be more accurate. This seems logical, since catfish are bottom feeders and spend their nights eating all the debris and shit at the bottom of bodies of water and also looking heinous.

Serve the catfish creole over the rice. I tried to eat some, discovered that I could NOT get the smell of raw fish off of my hands, and shoved it all into my refrigerator. Then I opened my window, lit two candles, and doused my wrists in my strongest perfume. Everything still smells like the asshole of the Creature from the Black Lagoon.

Tonight’s dinner was a bowl of cereal and half a peanut butter sandwich, served with a side of self-pitying, hormonal, regressing, I-just-want-someone-to-cook-me-dinner-but-I-only-live-with-a-brainless-feline tears (cat wouldn’t even eat the stuff! And he eats rubber bands!)

We live and we learn, friends. Now I know to buy the chocolate almonds next time and call it a night.

blackened zucchini bread

Image

There’s just enough tension in this blog to keep things interesting. This tension—between my expectations for myself and my actual abilities and accomplishments—has plagued me (and my therapists) for pretty much my entire life.

For example, today I had hoped to:

A) Wake up early and get some homework/interviews done
B) Go for a nice, brisk walk or run
C) Visit the SCAD career fair with a fresh face and plenty of copies of my résumé to go around
D) Plant an herb garden on my balcony
E) Clean my apartment
F) Bake some deliciously perfect zucchini bread.

Here’s what actually happened:

A) I woke up at 10:30 a.m. with a hangover and found a half-eaten bag of Cool Ranch Doritos in the kitchen
B) Walked in the rain without an umbrella to wait for the ever-evasive psychic I’m hoping to interview for an assignment
C) Didn’t make it to the career fair
D) Spoke with the psychic after she stood me up in an attempt to set up a specific interview time—she got my number (why did she need to ask for it?) and said she would “text me in the morning”
E) Burned the everliving shit out of some zucchini bread
F) Had a drink at Wet Willie’s and called it a night.

We can’t view these things as “failures” because that only leads to anxiety and depression. It’s all relative, anyway.

Right?

photo(6)

I’m going to provide you with the recipe, anyway, and just blame my misfortune on the fact that my pint-sized oven is the equivalent of a kid’s Easy Bake. (Also maybe the fact that I suck, hard, at cooking.)

I based most of my recipe off of this smitten kitchen version, the only difference being that I didn’t mix all the dry ingredients together before incorporating them into the wet ingredients (there was no well-informed reason for this—I just didn’t care enough).

Here’s what you’ll need:

• 3 eggs
• 1 c olive oil (or vegetable oil…or, whatever)
• 1 3/4 c sugar
• 2 c grated zucchini (this was surprisingly easy to grate; I used my mom’s old 19th century prototype grater and had no trouble)
• 2 tsp vanilla extract
• 3 c all-purpose flour
• 3 tsp cinnamon (that sounds like a lot because it is)
• 1/8 tsp nutmeg (alas, I had none, so I added more cinnamon)
• 1 tsp baking soda
• 1/2 tsp baking powder
• 1 tsp salt
• 1/2 c chopped walnuts or pecans (I used walnuts)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Generously grease two 8X4 loaf pans (mine were 8X2 because I couldn’t find a different size, and if you’ve ever been to the downtown Kroger, you know that everyone there is a hot mess 24/7, i.e. either 400 lbs and in a motorized cart, talking to themselves like a schizophrenic, or pulling 5 hysteric kids along behind them, so I didn’t take much time to look for the appropriate size. I apologize to my girlfriend for being too judgmental—you’re right, I am. But really).

Beat the eggs in a large bowl. Then add in the sugar, oil, vanilla and zucchini. The mixture will begin to look like mucus with little green things floating in it.

photo(4)

Add whatever the hell else you have left. If you want to be meticulous, combine the dry ingredients first—you could even sift them if you want to be a real douche—and then slowly mix them in. (Side note: I accidentally deleted my entire original post, so I’m having to re-write it. Hence the unnecessarily aggressive language. Sorry…)

Pour the batter into the pans and bake for about an hour, or until an inserted toothpick or knife comes out clean. I checked mine after about 45 minutes, and their centers were still gelatinous. So I stepped away for about .2 seconds, and when I returned, this is what I found:

photo(3)

I sang a chorus of the word “balls,” along with some other choice words, for a good minute or so. I really had high hopes for this one, guys. I mean, I really expected it to turn out OK— not looking like it had just emerged from the fires of hell.

My aspirational chef is a 50s-housewife-domestic-goddess-meets-liberated-modern-feminist-who-can-cook-for-herself. She wears an apron in an ironically postmodern way, and looks cute wearing it.”Microwaves,” she says, “are for the weak.”

Yet here I was, covered in flour, staring incredulously at the zucchini bread that looked as if I had angrily blow-torched the shit out of it.

There’s a disconnect here.

Luckily, it wasn’t too hard to saw off the charred bits, and though the inside of the bread was a little too dry, it was still light and flavorful.

photo(2)

photo(1)

It’s a process, folks. A long and arduous process. But this finished product ain’t too shabby.

Tomorrow: dinner! For guests! Stay tuned.